Sunday, December 27, 2009

It's not winter in Nebraska, but odd for Texas

While we no where came close to the snow our friends up north have experianced, it is still amazing that it is sticking around for more than a day.

Day after Christams in the pasture

RJ in a hurry to get back to the porch

Our driveway

Our road to town. The drifting is what made it deeper than the pasture

Friday, December 25, 2009

A few more Christmas photos

Merry Christmas from our pasture to yours

After a day and night of blowing snow, and mini blizzard conditions, today we awoke to a stunning day, with bright sunshine, no wind, and our world covered in white. The horses were thrilled to head out to the pasture and stretch their legs.

(Click pic for larger view)

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The weather rollercoaster

Sunday afternoon, I took the horses out. I decided to ride Flag, and pony Hank. The weather was picture perfect. Warm sunny and clear. I'd say it was about 70 degrees while we were riding. I pushed the boys to move out for a quick loop of ab out 8 or 9 miles. Flag broke a sweat. Enough so, I actually got my handy dandy spounge off the saddle to wet him from a puddle.  He was cheerful as always, and Hank was more than happy to trot along beside him. Lots of riders out on the trail, enjoying the unseasonally warm day.

Then Monday it was again another warm day. I caught the boys, and was planning to head over for another ride, but after looking at the mud, left over sweat, and gunk on them, I decided that a bath might be in order.  Who knows, might be my last chance to clean them up really well until Spring. I don't mind them dirty if they are not doing anything, but hate the dirt, sweat and gunk when they sweat on a ride, than then always seems to end up as a rub or sore under the tack. So, tied them up, and got the hose out.

Did a quick wash job, just to get the main nasty stuff off them. Flag summed up his feelings on the process with a look on his face that told the story.

After they were dry, which did not take all that long, I let them head back out to the pasture. I found Hank down by the pond later, and decided to snap a picture of him in the sunshine.

All the critters seemed to be enjoying the sunshine. I bet they knew to take advantage of it while it was nice out.

Look how big Mardi is getting!

As the sun started to head on down towards a sunset, the winds shifted, and started coming in from the north. I could feel the tempatures dropping, and knew that cold front was heading on in. Walking back from the barn, I saw we had our little herd of deer that frequent our area grazing down below the house. I grabbed the camera, and found a shot that included Coony, the cat, with the deer in the background. You can see his hair blowing in the wind.

As I type this, our tempature has dropped over 40 degrees since I was out giving horses baths this afternoon. Oh, and I added a little weather gadget to my blog, so you can see how cold, or maybe warm it is here at our house! Tomorrow is to be a high in the 40's, which I know some of the bloggers I read would LOVE a warm day like that!

If you don't like the weather here, wait a day or so..or maybe even an hour, and it will change.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

First NATRC ride of 2010 season

This past weekend was the first NATRC ride of the 2010 season. Region 4 always has this ride in early December, the "Christmas Ride". Besides the normal ride, there is a gift exchange, nice potluck with Turkey and Ham, and riders are also asked to bring unwrapped gifts for Meals On Wheels. Always a nice ride that we look forward to.

This year the ride was held down at Parrie Haynes State Park, just south of Ft. Hood in Killeen Texas. They have a nice campground with some electric spots and a trail system with permanently marked trails. Normally the ride at this location is a springtime ride, so it would be interesting to see the area with the trees dropping leaves instead of full foliage. The weather in Texas is never predictable. And of course, this time of year is most uncertain.

I headed down to the ride Thursday, so I could secure an electric spot to camp. They were calling for cold nights, down in the 20's, and even some snow on Friday. Thelma and the puppy stayed at home with my hubby, so it was just Hank and I heading down. Only 200 miles to this ride. I had picked up an audio book of Seabiscuit on CD, and that kept me entertained on the drive. We arrived, got camp set up, and I went out to dinner with some friends.

Thankfully the predicted snow for Friday only amounted to small flakes falling for about 5 min. So it was not a "White Christmas ride". I did manage to string some Christmas lights up on the camper and trailer to add some holiday cheer.

Saturday morning was indeed pretty chilly, with the temps in the mid to upper 20's, warming up to 30ish when we timed out to do our 25.5 miles. Hank was SO full of himself with the chill in the air, and I was riding a rocket. While he is not one to buck, and is always under control, he was just bursting with energy. The judges watched us not too far out of camp go up and down some little berms, or small hills, and he was jiggy, went down the first one in a side pass, and was breathing fire. After we got past this spot, and on some open trail, I let him move out for awhile at his nice trot, and he finally settled down after getting to stretch his legs. Meanwhile, I figured he did not impress the judges with his rather animated manner in which he passed them.

The trails are a combo of single tracks twisting their way through the trees and woods,

rocky sections where it is best to watch their footing,

two tracks across through open meadows, and many creek crossings, and some muddy sections to negotiate.

Plenty of places to really move out, much to the delight of Hank. Even though he was naughty, I still love the feel of a powerful, strong, fit horse. He does not tug or fight me, and is obedient, but his energy and strength radiates up through the reins. We finally found a nice pocket where we were all alone, and had some of those moments of pure joy to be riding ones favorite trail partner. We were cantering a nice open section of trail and when I came to a curve, asked Hank for a flying lead change, and it was flawless.

He was bold, forward, not acting goofy and not spooking like he often does for the heck of it. He had settled in, and the morning energy was leveling out. We came to a judged creek crossing where we had to stop before exiting up the muddy bank, and back 5 steps.

Hank listened, and did very well. His metabolics were fine. A couple little odd things, but with the cold weather, and many horses not thrilled about drinking the super cold creek water, I was not surprised, or worried.

Sunday dawned with some fog / light mist in the air. Not as frigid as Saturday morning, and I decided that rain gear was in order. Because the ride loops back through camp, I was able to drop off jackets at my rig as the weather warmed up, and the moisture in the air subsided. Hank was not as revved up, but he was still strong and ready to go. I found our pocket, and again enjoyed the trail in the manner I prefer best. Just my horse and I. But about 2/3 of the way through the first loop, I was trotting across sort of an open area when two riders came cantering up behind us. I moved out his trot, but they just cantered faster. We then caught up to a couple riders, and now our peaceful pocket was blown. In general, those who ride in the Open division will seek a pocket to ride alone, or with a friend or two, and pace themselves to stay in that nice little window. Most of us sort of have a preference as to where we ride in the group, out towards the front, in the middle, or towards the back, and don't normally alter that much, even ride to ride. But sometimes those plans fall apart with an anxious horse, or with riders new to the division that have not figured out how to pace well, or can't find that "spot". Such was the case with the two who cantered up behind us, and now Hanks mind was jazzed up a bit. And of course, around the corner, and we had a judged spot at a creek. Simple enough. Ride into the creek, step over the small log in the water, stand, count to five, exit the creek. But Hanks version was to jig into the creek, step over the log, start to side pass left, and I blocked him with my leg, start to side pass right, I blocked him with my leg, head left again, and sort of do the Cha-Cha over the log. Got him to stand, counted to TEN, to make him listen and stand, then exited the creek, which he did in a huge rush. I can't get mad at him. He is a horse with his own brain, is fit, ready to go, and mentally, had been "chased" from behind by the other horses moving rather quickly. He of course settled down after we got to move out again. We had one more obstacle, of a side pass in hand over a log, and a mount, which he was a perfect boy. At the end of the day he checked out with good metabolics. Even with the cold, and Hank being rather forward, we had a great ride. I have no worries about getting him back to some 50 mile endurance rides in 2010.

Started packing, took down my Christmas lights, and got ready to hit the road after awards. Just a four hour drive home, and we would both sleep better in our own 'beds'. At awards, Hank placed 4th,and I won my horsemanship class. After I looked at our score cards, I saw that he indeed, lost manners points for his anxious attitude. Oh well. And much to my surprise, I only lost one horsemanship point all weekend. I gave Hank hugs and kisses back at the trailer, told him he was a good boy, and loaded up and headed home. At home, he ran around the pasture, I'm sure telling the others how terrific he was.

Not sure when our next ride will be. We have some endurance rides in the area coming up, but they are not ones I enjoy riding. The next NATRC ride is in March, so until then, we will just keep conditioning, and hope that the winter weather is kind enough to do so.

Again, Thank you Jim Edmondson for some awesome photos from the weekend. If y'all are interested in seeing more of his work from the weekend, the gallery is HERE

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What is that white stuff all over the ground?

Weatherman said we'd have some snow mixed in the rain, and nothing would stick. Oops!

Some crappy photos, but you get the idea of how much we got.

Our Roses are SO very confused this season, and just bloomed again last week, to get covered in snow!

The view below the house into the pasture.

Mardi in her first snow. She hardly noticed.

She and Thelma ran and played like normal

She is getting so big!

Hank and Toby.

Funny to see Hank rear to play with the old man.

And Gambler, who was the one who HATED Flag in the beginning, and has always been timid. Looking very stunning in his macho pose.